The Woods Are Real (2024)


The Woods Are Real

Folk horror is an English genre, and many of the best British films belong to it. Thus it may seem strange that director Alix Lambert and screenwriters Matt Dellapina and Sean Christopher Lewis, all hailing from across the pond, would choose to work with it in The Woods are Real. But can their story survive being transplanted from rural England?

We start at a dinner party that could be mistaken for an Apple commercial gone sour. There’s a gay couple constantly touching each other called Caleb (Nick Westrate) and Stan (Jeffrey Omura), and there’s also Joba (Matt Dellapina) and Quincy (Chinasa Ogbuagu), who are mixed-race. Joba is so insubstantial to his black Harvard grad partner that she casually stabs him. It’s jarring these characters are repugnant, but is the script admiring or satirizing the creative antimatter of D.E.I.? Quincy’s family runs a ruinous mining operation, Joba’s family makes wristwatches pointedly noted as being made by “little brown hands,” but watches are like cars they don’t get made in poor places. If this is an allegory, I don’t know what for.

“The house and their car disappear, leaving them completely exposed and alone in the woods”

After some arguing, Caleb gives Quincy and Joba a trip to a retreat that reinvigorated him. They drive off into the woods and set up shop in a house full of odd little anachronisms: There’s even a gramophone that’s over 100 years old. While they’re moving in, it starts coming to life: A voice comes through it telling them they’ll be killed, so they go to leave; then the house disappears along with their car; now they’re stranded in the middle of nowhere with only maraschino cherries (for Manhattans) to eat.

The Woods are Real really comes into its own once Campbell Scott arrives as the mad Woodsman and minor deity of these parts. The spooky, sinewy Scott is the best thing about this movie; he plays at pseudo-benevolent mysticism as he torments Joba and Quincy. His appearance is handled with some genuine directorial flair Quincy is held captive at axe point while the Woodsman whispers lines for her to repeat to a deeply freaked-out Joba across a clearing in the forest and it’s nuts.

Folk horror has range, and Lambert does a good job of showing that. She skips over the pagan horrors more typical of this genre, opting instead for aspects of the ancient Old Testament story of Job within the narrow confines of forest-bound horror. Its theme comfortably melds with far-out cousins like Ben Wheatley’s gonzo Civil War story A Field in England and the idolatrous scare fest The Wicker Man; there’s a sense that its dark philosophizing has come from a place of actual inspiration and inquiry.

Watch The Woods Are Real For Free On Gomovies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top